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9:00 AM EST, Tuesday, August 25, 2009: We finally ended in Beaver Creek, Colorado. We're borrowing a friend's house. It's "Shoulder Season" here -- between summer and winter. There are no tourists, no residents, in fact, nobody. In every shop we visited, we were the only shoppers. We were greeted occasionally with "May I help you?" To which the answer is an obvious, "No." Not one seller tried to sell us anything, as in, "This is breakthrough material. This is really nice because... This will look great on you."

The recession has slammed a body blow at high-end, pricey resort towns. One jeweler shopkeeper admitted it was the worst year he'd ever seen. He was measuring success by having one sale a day. He hadn't had one when I visited around 6 PM.

The lesson is simple:You are the master of your own destiny. Selling is not a dirty word. Having a Sale will bring in needed revenue. As the jeweler said, "Everything's on sale. What am I gong to do with this inventory? Take it home? Eat it?"

Traveling by road in the west is a genuine joy. The Rocky Mountain National Park is a particular joy. No photo can do justice to this park.

This is but one incredible view. You climb this road to over 12,000 feet. You can see bits of the road. The road was built in the early 1930s by Washington and has been enjoyed by millions of people ever since. Would you rather have this road or Cash For Clunkers? It makes you wonder whatever happened to our imagination.

Travels broadens the mind. Speak to the people and you learn there's more to life than figuring the perfect investment. It may be traveling form Bangor, Maine in a much-loved car:

These guys were big Red Sox fans. I hope their investments are doing better.

Some things I learned from the few days of traveling.

Hotels look good on the Internet and in guidebooks. But, the reality often stinks. We found our best hotels by stumbling on them. We have a recession, so there are plenty of vacancies.

GPS systems are a disaster for tourism. The one option they never offer is "most scenic." The systems have their own minds. Google Maps figured 129 miles for one short hop. Delorme Street Atlas figured 109 miles for the same trip. The person who designed Hertz's NeverLost system should be boiled in oil. Hands down it wins least user friendly. Susan and I argued whether it was most irritating (her view) or most insulting of the intelligence (my view). In the end, we agreed it was both. Don't ever pay for it. Take your own Garmin.

No wonder our healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Everyone is getting fat.

She's at a bakery buying a croissant.

Fat people everywhere. She's eating a huge ice cream cone. Ice cream stores and bakeries abound.

This lady was my favorite. Maybe she's never heard of diabetes and heart disease?

On all our travels, we didn't see any fat old people. I guess they're all in hospital enjoying our health care.

Portion control is the big problem. Portions out west are huge.

This is a cheeseburger I ordered. Note how the patty is too large for the plate.

The west is alive with motorcycles . Most are Harleys, which are noisy and shake -- allegedly their great charm.

No one in Colorado wears a helmet. Good for health care.

A new friend has a Honda Valkyrie. It has six cylinders and will easily do 165 MPH.

The touring Hondas are so heavy, most come with a reverse gear, i.e. they will go backwards.

It's good to smell the flowers. Or at least appreciate them.

All taken with my Canon G10 and all handheld. The G10 has manual focus which is really useful.

P.S. STEC keeps going up. It will pay for our little vacation.

Traveling in Wales,
On a beautiful summer's day, two American tourists were driving through Wales.

At Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch they stopped for lunch, and one of the tourists asked the waitress, 'Before we order, I wonder if you could settle an argument for us. Can you pronounce where we are, very, very, very slowly?'

The girl leaned over and slowly said, 'Burrr gurrr king'.

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.